Tis the season for charity scams

To the Editor:

Whether you donate $10, $100, $1,000, or $1,000,000, your hopes and expectations are that your donations go to the correct purpose instead of lining the pockets of the people which manage the charity. Most charities are honest and accountable to their donors, but unfortunately some are not. The following pointers will help you give more effectively.

1. Know thy charity.

2. Ask how donations are used.

3. Do not respond to pressure.

4. Keep records of your donations.

5. Beware of charities offering gifts.

6. "Tax exempt" does not always mean "tax deductible."

7. Ask if the charity is registered by federal, state, local authorities.

8. Be cautious about unsolicited e-mails seeking charitable contributions, especially from charities in foreign countries.

9. Do not be misled by a charity's familiar name which sounds similar to a well-known charity.

10. Be wary of requests to support police or firefighters. Contact local police and fire departments to determine if claims are true.

11. Do not be enticed by emotional appeals, such as bogus natural disaster charities which prey on people's emotions.

The "Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report" is available to help donators learn how much of your donation is going the end cause.

Send a check for $3 payable to the American Institute of Philanthropy, to: American Institute of Philanthropy, PO Box 578460, Chicago IL 60657-8460. This report is not available on the Internet, but some of the top rated charities are listed at To evaluate risk and maximize your donation, learn more from charity rating groups, such as: Charity Navigator at, American Institute of Philanthropy at, or at

By all means, don't forget to donate to your home town charities!

Steve Meirowsky

Graduate of Peabody High School